How Much Food Do We Waste?
Jan 16 2019 Read 598 Times
Over ten million tonnes of food is wasted in Britain every single year, according to the latest report from the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Published in October of last year, the report identifies the key sectors in which food is going to waste and highlights plans to tackle that profligacy in the coming years.
One of the government’s first actions has been to create the Food Waste Fund and appoint philanthropist Ben Elliot as its chair. Founder of luxury lifestyle management company Quintessentially, Elliot will be in charge of allocating the £15 million earmarked for the Fund to initiatives aimed at curbing Britain’s terrible food waste problem.
Breaking down the figures
According to the government’s figures, overall food waste in the UK equates to 10.2 million tonnes. The lion’s share of that is caused by private households buying too much and throwing away out-of-date or inedible food, while 1.8 million tonnes are created by the manufacturing industry. A further million is caused by hospitality companies, while 260,000 tonnes are thrown away from retail stores.
With the announcement of its scheme, the government has pinpointed 100,000 tonnes of edible and available food (or approximately 250 million meals) from the manufacturing and retail industries which is still going to waste. As with all kinds of recycling and waste management, including environmental pollution caused by wastewater, things can be simplified and made easier by segregating different types of food and handling them independently.
Around 43,000 tonnes of food are already redistributed to charities and persons in need via the use of bespoke apps and other philanthropic incentives. However, the government hope to improve upon that figure in the coming years and eliminate food waste altogether by 2030.
Onus on Elliot
As chair of the newly created Food Waste Fund, Elliot will be responsible for working closely with businesses in the various sectors and creating redistribution chains to minimise the amount that goes to landfill, as fuel feedstock or as fodder for animals. Instead, the government will introduce robust targets to try and improve performance and ensure that edible food is not simply thrown away.
“While families all over the country struggle to put food on the table and children still go to school each day with empty stomachs, there continues to be an unforgivable amount of food waste, which is both morally deplorable and largely avoidable,” explained Elliot. “As a nation, we need to stop this excessive waste and ensure that surplus food finds its way to people in our society who need it most, and not let it get thrown away and go to landfill.”
Elliot already has extensive experience in the sector, having worked closely with food poverty charity The Felix Project for some time. Operating in London, the group claims to have saved up to £1 billion worth of food and redistributed it to those most in need.
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